EX­TRA TIME ON MY SIDE

For­mer rep­re­sen­ta­tive rugby league and rugby union foot­baller Lote Tuqiri still en­joys both codes

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - HOT SEAT - ALI­SON WALSH LOTE TUQIRI, 36 BUSI­NESS­MAN & AM­BAS­SADOR

Aged 19, Tuqiri made his first-grade rugby league de­but with the Bris­bane Bron­cos. He played six State of Ori­gin games in 2001 and in 2002 went on to play for the Kan­ga­roos. In 2002 he switched to rugby union, win­ning 67 caps for Aus­tralia and play­ing in two World Cups. He re­turned to rugby league in 2010 and re­tired af­ter win­ning the grand fi­nal with the South Syd­ney Rab­bitohs in 2014. He now is an owner of HooZu, an “in­flu­encer” mar­ket­ing agency, does am­bas­sado­rial work for the Bron­cos and lives in Bris­bane.

I grew up in … I was born in Fiji and my fa­ther came to Bris­bane to play rugby union for GPS. We came over a year later when I was three. We lived in West End for a while and then moved to Woodridge out at Lo­gan. They got Dad a job with Queens­land Rail where he worked his whole life. I got picked up by the Bron­cos and put on a schol­ar­ship when I was 16. I played at Souths Sun­ny­bank for a year, then Lo­gan Broth­ers. My first first-grade match was against the Cronulla Sharks at (the then) ANZ Sta­dium (now the Queens­land Sport and Ath­let­ics Cen­tre at Nathan, in Bris­bane’s south).

I thought I would be … I wasn’t think­ing about ca­reers when I was young. I loved play­ing footy but never played in a ju­nior club un­til I was 15. I had to go church; my fam­ily is quite re­li­gious. I would like to have played but my par­ents said no.

My most trea­sured pos­ses­sion is … my fam­ily. I’m mar­ried (to Re­bekka) with three boys, Sam­son, 11, Emosi, 8, and Max­i­m­il­ian, nine months. The word that best de­scribes me is … quiet.

My favourite smell is … leaves from the lemon myr­tle tree. I used to love scrunch­ing them up and smelling them. I still do it if I see one of the trees; the smell takes me back to child­hood.

A book I re­ally en­joyed is … As a child I loved The BFG (by Roald Dahl). It’s com­ing out in a movie soon and I think I want to see it more than the kids do. I like read­ing about peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences – bi­ogra­phies and au­to­bi­ogra­phies.

Run­ning out at Sun­corp Sta­dium in a Ma­roon

jersey is … There was a cam­paign for Ori­gin 10 or 20 years ago where the play­ers were 10 foot tall and bul­let­proof. That’s how it feels. You’re walk­ing on air, it’s what you’ve al­ways wanted to do. It’s every­thing you’d think it would be.

How does it feel watch­ing now; do you wish

you were out there? … I guess you do, you wish you were out there do­ing it. Now I watch it with my son Sam­son; he was born in Syd­ney, he’s a Blue. He plays league out at Easts Ju­niors at Hol­land Park (on Bris­bane’s south­side). He en­joys it, he’s a handy lit­tle player. Emosi plays as well.

The most nerve-wrack­ing game I ever played

was … grand fi­nals. I played in two NRL fi­nals and two Su­per Rugby fi­nals, and in the 2003 Rugby World Cup fi­nal. They’re all in the mix but prob­a­bly the 2014 NRL one (for South Syd­ney). I’d ac­tu­ally bro­ken a bone in my shoul­der the week be­fore. I was wor­ried about let­ting my team­mates down. It was the men­tal game that week, I was talk­ing my­self through how I would get through the game. Can­ter­bury were a phys­i­cal team. I did have a big pad on there, it looked like a pack of smokes. Even be­fore the game all I was think­ing was if this gets a bad knock, I’ll be off. But it went fine.

The code I pre­ferred play­ing was … rugby league, be­cause as a winger you get the ball more of­ten and you run with it more. Some­times rugby is a for­ward-dom­i­nated game and you don’t get the ball that much. I played in an era where they kicked a lot and played the ter­ri­tory game. I watch both, I have no pref­er­ence. I also re­ally en­joy watch­ing the Rugby Sev­ens.

Life af­ter foot­ball feels … good, phys­i­cally; I’m not walk­ing around bruised and bat­tered and my body has healed. I’m en­joy­ing spend­ing a lot more time at home with my kids and fam­ily.

Ex­er­cise now is … some­times hard to find time and mo­ti­va­tion to fit in. It used to be en­joy­able do­ing it with 30 other blokes, now you’ve got to find mo­ti­va­tion and then do it your­self. The Bron­cos old boys play soccer on a Fri­day morn­ing at six. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of good ban­ter, the old jokes start com­ing back out, it’s quite en­joy­able and then we go and have a cof­fee.

I re­lax by … sit­ting in front of the TV and switch­ing off and get­ting into se­ries. I love

Game of Thrones at the mo­ment. My wife and I like do­ing that to­gether and we like go­ing to the movies. My next chal­lenge is … with this busi­ness, get­ting it off the ground and mak­ing it suc­cess­ful.

My great­est fear is … fail­ure. (It’s) al­ways been a big driver at dif­fer­ent times when I was play­ing. And it’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent ball game now. My last meal would be … bar­be­cued mud crab; I had one at Sails at Noosa and it was un­be­liev­able. The point of life is … en­joy­ing it. Tuqiri ap­pears at Jupiters Ho­tel & Casino, Gold Coast, on Wed­nes­day as part of Ori­gin fes­tiv­i­ties and at the Trea­sury Casino and Ho­tel Bris­bane event on July 13. www.trea­sury­bris­bane.com.au/ma­roonk­ing­dom

PLAY­ING STATE OF ORI­GIN FOOT­BALL AT SUN­CORP STA­DIUM WAS LIKE WALK­ING ON AIR; IT’S EVERY­THING YOU’D THINK IT WOULD BE

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